Analyzing Risk: Don't Fear Taking the Plunge

Fear of taking risks holds many of us back from true success. Learning how to analyze and better understand those risks, however, is the first step in alleviating related fears. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re considering taking a leap of faith.
Kerry Lengyel
Published: November 16, 2017
Taking risks is an important aspect of building a successful career and, ultimately, a happier life. But many people — veterinary professionals included — let fear of the unknown hold them back.

Fear often stems in part from a lack of knowledge about how to properly calculate and analyze risk.

When you break down all aspects of an opportunity, you have a better understanding of what is involved. In turn, this understanding allows you to reduce your fear and move forward.

To better analyze risk and reach a decision you’re confident in, be sure to ask yourself these questions.

“What are the potential costs and benefits?”
It’s the standard pro/con list you’ve seen people use, except in this instance you want to make sure you’re looking at things from a business-related viewpoint. If you decide to move forward, what areas of your business and your success might suffer? If you jump now, how could this benefit your business and your success in the future? Take a step back and look at both sides of the coin to see if the positives outweigh the negatives.

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“How will this help me achieve my goal?”
We all have an ultimate end goal — whether it‘s owning your own practice, vacationing in the Bahamas, retiring with a certain amount of money or something equally wonderful. What is yours? Think realistically about how taking this risk might speed up or deter you on the path to reaching this goal.

“What are the alternatives?”
There may not be another option for you to consider other than this risky one. If that’s the case, acknowledging that may ease some of your fear. If you find out that there are, in fact, alternatives, consider all of them and try to decide which is the best business decision for you in both the short-term and long-term.

“What is the worst thing that could happen, and how could I reduce the risk it will occur?”
Calculating all possible outcomes — even the worst ones — is vital when analyzing risk. There’s always the possibility that something could go wrong or may not have the outcome you expected, but it’s about how quickly you pick yourself back up and move forward that really counts. When the potential outcomes don’t seem clear-cut, consider how you could avoid hypothetical hiccups if you ultimately took the plunge.

“How good (or bad) would it be if the best-case scenario comes true?”
Think about your answer to the previous question regarding the worst thing that could happen if you dive head first. Would it honestly be so bad? Would this possible scenario dig a hole too deep for you to pull yourself out? Now look at the other side of the spectrum. How great would it be if everything worked out in your favor? Examine both sides and you might realize that you shouldn’t be so fearful after all.

“How much will this decision matter in five years?”
This may be the most important of these questions. Look ahead five years to where you want to be and ask yourself how, or if, the potential risk you’re faced with will help advance you toward your goals. How will it impact your future? Will you regret it later if you don’t take action now? If you see more improvements than drawbacks in your future, you should seriously consider taking the plunge.

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